The Ustari Cycle Novellas: The Stringer

I may have mentioned this several thousand times by now, but Pocket Star will be publishing three eBook novellas set in the blood magic world of The Ustari Cycle this year and next. The novellas are titled The Stringer (August 2016), Last Best Day (October 2016), and The Boom Bands (January 2017) and I am really, really excited for y’all to read them.

The covers are final, I think — or at least the cover for The Stringer is, because it’s up on all the store sites, so here you go:
They’ve also revamped the covers for Fixer and We Are Not Good People to make the series cohesive, and those will pop up in due time. In the mean time, The Stringer and the other novellas are all available for pre-order, so why not go and, um, pre-order them?


Start a Newsletter, They Said. Give Away Signed Books, They Said.

lookiehereLook, self-promotion is mysterious. I don’t claim to understand it. Sometimes posts or things I create that I think are hilarious and/or brilliant get zero traction, and sometimes throwaway ideas I spend zero time on get thousands of shares. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to promotion, let’s just put it out there.

So when my agent Janet appears in a swirl of purple smoke and prods me awake with her bedazzled halberd and orders to me to start up an email newsletter, I do it.

Take a gander over at the sidebar (see image). See that? It’s a sign up for my newsletter! YOU SHOULD SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER. The first 30 folks who do so will get

  • A signed copy of Trickster or We Are Not Good People.
  • A couple of bookmarks or other promo-type swag-things
  • My enduring gratitude (worthless, really)
  • The newsletter, which will be hilarious and offer news about upcoming releases, appearances, giveaways, and anything else I can think of to amuse and astound you

What’s to lose? All you have to do is sign up, and then I’ll email you to confirm you’re one of the first 30 and you tell me where to send your swag (and the inscription you want, if you have a preference). IT’S THAT EASY. My GOD, it’s so easy I can’t believe you haven’t done it already.

Plus, if you push me over 2,000 subscribers, Mailchimp will start charging me, which will make me sad, so there’s that as a goal in case you secretly hate me.



And We’re Live …

bey_lord_omniOkey dokey, kids: The great Avery Cates Short Story Experiment has come to a close (for now). Parts 5 and 6 of the digital shorts, The Bey and The City Lord are live as eBooks:


The City Lord: KINDLE | NOOK | KOBO | PLAY

The Omnibus edition, which is all six novellas combined into a standalone novel, is also available as an eBook for $6 on all platforms — as well as a print book through Amazon for $14 if you so desire. I wanted to keep that price down, but it proved impossible.

The Shattered Gears Omnibus: KINDLE | NOOK | KOBO | PLAY | PRINT

And that’s all she wrote! Or, all I wrote, for now at least. I’ll be taking a little break from Cates for a while, but I’ll get back to this new story eventually, in some form or another.

To everyone who bought these books, sent me encouraging notes, posted reviews, or otherwise showed love for Avery — thank you! I truly hope you’ve enjoyed these new works. Keep your comments and reviews and thoughts coming!


Upcoming Releases

It’s tax season, which here in the Somers Compound buried deep under Hoboken (and we do mean buried, as the city removed the entrance/exit long ago) means that we’re slowly being crushed under 1099 forms and other tax documents (delivered via pneumatic tube). When you provide 45% of the Internet’s book-related Think Pieces, you accrue a lot of 1099s. Add on the statements from your agent, your DIY publishing endeavors, and your many Defense Department contracts for the Superweapons Based on Cats project, and it gets kind of cluttered.

Naturally, we’re aiming to make this year even more complex. Aside from writing even more book-related freelance articles to gain more of those precious 1099 forms, we also have a number of fresh, piping hot stories scheduled for 2016. This is all part of my plan to keep the pennies and nickels trickling in so I can fill the underground pool with filthy coins and swim around in them. Which is a lot harder to do than Scrooge McDuck makes it look.

So, here’s a breakdown of everything Somers coming at you this year, so you can plan accordingly and start polishing those nickels and pennies for me.

Avery Cates

The experiment of writing a novel in novella-sized chunks was a lot of fun, but all great experiments must end, so I’ll be releasing Parts 5 & 6 (The Bey & The City Lord) as well as the omnibus edition containing all 6 parts, The Shattered Gears, on 2/15. I originally said they’d go up for pre-order on that date, but now I think I’ll just release ’em. I wanted to keep the print version of the omnibus to $6 or so, but as it turns out that was drunk talk, as the cheapest I can make it is $14.

The Beycity lord_coverThe Shattered Gears Omnibus

The Ustari Cycle

There will be new additions to my other series, The Ustari Cycle, which began with 2014’s We Are Not Good People (technically, with 2013’s Trickster, but that became Part 1 of WANGP). I have four novellas/short stories scheduled for 2016 from this universe. Three of them will be published as eBooks from Pocket Star:

  • The Stringer (August 2016) (Pre-order now!)
  • Last Best Day (2016)
  • The Boom Bands (2016)

And one short story, Crossed Wires, is a collaboration with Stephen Blackmoore for the anthology Urban Allies, out in July, combining my Ustari Cycle characters with his Eric Carter universe in an explosive (and cuss-filled) adventure.

Urban Allies Coming 2016








The Bonus Situation

Finally, a standalone short story of mine titled The Bonus Situation is scheduled to appear in Ragnarok Publications’ Mech: Age of Steel anthology. Technically, this is scheduled for January 2017, but what the heck. I’ve already typed all this, I’m not going to erase it now.









There you go: All the Somers fiction you can handle. Or not handle.


New Philip K. Marks Story @ Black Denim Lit

Black Denim Lit

Black Denim Lit

Hey, kids! The folks over at Black Denim Lit have published my short story, Howling on For More and you can read it right now, for free!

Howling is a Philip K. Marks short story, which means, of course, that it’s creepy and a little weird as my favorite down on his luck investigator with a penchant for the strange, paranormal, and impossible looks into a new case.

Previous published Marks stories can be read, too; Sift, Almost Invisible, Through appeared in the MWA Anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris, and A Meek and Thankful Heart appeared in Buzzy Mag in 2013.

More Marks to come!


The Cates Digital Shorts Going Forward

The Shattered Gears Omnibus

The Shattered Gears Omnibus

SO, my little experiment in writing a novel as a series of short story-length sections has been going on for a little more than a year now. Well, a little more than four years, if I’m being honest, as the original section, The Shattered Gears, was originally sketched out in 2011. So far I’ve released sections Two through Four (The Walled City, The Pale, The Iron Island).

I’ve been sticking to a three-month schedule for these releases in order to give myself time to write each one (I’m doing this Full Pantser, writing as I go), but as I sit here I’ve finished sections Five and Six (The Bey and The City Lord).

Well, I say “pantsed” but to be fair I have sketched out brief summaries of twelve additional sections, which would comprise books two and three of this trilogy. And I mean sketched, these are thumbnails at best that just show a basic direction. I’d done the same for the first four, and things changed significantly as I merrily pantsed my way through it, but ultimately I’d say these have been a grand example of what I call plantsing, a hybrid approach to writing (I actually spoke about this and wrote an article about this for Writer’s Digest which will be coming out in 2016, watch the skies!).

There’s some proofin’ and other checking to do (never my strong suits — as I like to tell my editors, I’m more of a Big Idea sort of guy than a spellcheck kind of guy), but basically, the novel is done. In fact, here are the covers for Sections Five and Six:

The Beycity lord_cover

Since they’re complete and ready to go, I’ve decided to accelerate the schedule a bit, so here’s what I’ll be doing:

February 15, 2016: Both The Bey and The City Lord will go on pre-sale, together, at the same time, for anyone who wants to order them.

February 15, 2016: I’ll also be putting The Shattered Gears Omnibus up for pre-order as an eBook and a print book available through Amazon. This is all six sections collected and formatted into a single novel. The goal is to price both as close to $6 as possible, so the cost will be equal whether you bought each section as they came out or bought the omnibus.

March 15, 2016: Everything goes live, I am an instant millionaire, I stop responding to your emails and texts and begin building a Bond Villain Lair somewhere in the Pacific.

Hey! I bought all six digital shorts, do I have to spend another $6 to get the nifty omnibus? Not for the digital version. If you have all six sections, there will be a mechanism for getting a free eBook of the omnibus. Unfortunately, no, there won’t be any way for me to send you a free print version.

When will Sections 7-18 (books Two and Three) be out? I don’t know. My approach and enthusiasm for the second and third books depends a bit on how everything settles out sales-wise for this one, and my schedule. I do plan to write these at some point, but am also kind of hoping that I’m so spectacularly busy being paid to write other things in 2016 I have to postpone them, so, frankly, we’ll see. On the other hand, if in the final analysis the first one does really well I’d have to move these up in priority. I’ll let y’all know.

So, there you have it, The Plan Going Forward. To everyone who has downloaded, read, and reviewed, these digital shorts: Thanks! I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Cheers!


The Art of Collaboration

Urban Allies Coming 2016

Urban Allies Coming 2016

I’m not a great collaborator. I distrust my own ideas so much I hate to verbalize them to anyone until I’ve turned them into something I consider defensible, and my instinctive misanthropy makes me distrust just about everyone. I always assume creative collaborations will end in disaster: Tears, recriminations, burned houses and stolen cars.

In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually collaborated with someone more or less willingly. Let’s see … in 1993 I started to collaborate with three friends on what would eventually become The Inner Swine, but it wasn’t until it completely fell apart that I wound up publishing the first issue. In 1996, I collaborated very successfully with Jeof Vita on the Sliders comic “Blood and Splendor,” an event explored in this award-unwinning documentary:

Jeof and I tried to keep that partnership going, writing one script and discussing several other projects before life and our mutual hatred of each other split us apart.

More recently, Sean Ferrell and I have collaborated on a series of short videos known as Two Men Have Words, typically with one of us writing a script and providing basic direction, and the other tossing in ideas and improvisation. Although neither of us wants to take credit for anything specific.

That’s about it for me and collaboration. A few months ago, when I was invited to participate in a new anthology called Urban Allies that would involve authors of so-called Urban Fantasy novels writing collaborative stories featuring each of their characters somehow sharing a story, my first question was, how much will I get paid? And my second question was, do I have to actually speak with the other writer?

Turns out, I did. I was teamed up with Stephen Blackmoore, who would be bringing his character Eric Carter to the table. This was obviously a match made in heaven for many reasons, chief among them the fact that Eric Carter and my own Lem Vonnegan would get along famously when they weren’t plotting against each other or scheming the last free drink from each other. This, I thought, is going to be fun.

And it was! The story we wrote for Urban Allies, “Crossed Wires,” was a blast to write, because we kept handing it off to each other and being surprised by what we got back. You might think blending two complex universes (and slightly different magic systems) in 15,000 words would be difficult, but we made it look easy. Because we’re geniuses? OF COURSE because we’re geniuses!

Does this mean I’ll be collaborating more? Unlikely. I suspect Stephen and I worked together well as an exception to the rule, and my general feelings on collaboration haven’t changed — I have too many of my own ideas to work out to spend much time on someone else’s. But if Stephen Blackmoore ever wants to work on another Lem/Eric crossover, I’m in. Also, if he wants to buy me a lot of drinks because I’m so cool, that’d be fine too.


The Iron Island Available for Pre-order at Amazon

Cates Digital Short #4

Cates Digital Short #4

As threatened, the fourth installment in my little novel experiment with Avery Cates, The Iron Island, is now available for preorder at Amazon, and will soon be live at the Kobo Store and Google Play (as always, Barnes and Noble will go live on December 15th, as they don’t really do pre-orders for the likes of me).

If you’ve read the first three in the series (The Shattered Gears, The Walled City, and The Pale) you know we left Avery with a bag over his head and on his way to the Iron Island against his will. The story picks up here shortly after as I observe Elmore Leonard’s rule about cutting out the boring bits.

Go on and pre-order if Kindle is your jam, and I’ll let you know as soon as other formats go live.

FULL NOVEL: A lot of folks have asked me if there are plans to collect the six short stories into a single volume and/or do a print version: Yes! After #5 (The Bey) and #6 (The City Lord) come out, I’ll be collecting all six into a single volume titled The Shattered Gears and putting out both a digital omnibus and a print version via Amazon’s Createspace. The price will be as close to $6 as possible so no one is penalized because of format choice.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!


The Iron Island Preorder Coming Next Week

Cates Digital Short #4

Cates Digital Short #4

Hey there hi there ho – a reminder that the 4th installment of my experimental-oh-so-modern series of digital-only short stories starring Avery Cates, The Iron Island will be available for pre-order next Friday, 11/13 (it would have been the 15th, but Sundays are for napping). I’ll post a link when it’s live.

A trailer’s coming too! Watch the skies.

Finally, here’s the first two paragraphs to remind you that you love Avery.

1. criminal, cop-killer, legendary asshole

Stomach rolling, I contemplated vomiting in the bag cinched over my head and the impact on my reputation that would cause. My hands were still bound, though Herra had been kind enough to cut the hogtie so I could sit normally; I could picture her wide grin on that wrinkled, weather-burned face as she reached around me to cut the ties, saying “Honor system, Cates, we’re trusting you not to jump an’ drown yourself.”

She smelled like a corpse—they all did, unwashed bodies in clothes that had been sweated and pissed and slept in—but then so did I, probably. The one blessing of the world was that you could never smell yourself.

COMING 12-15-15.